OP-ED: Colon Cancer: Early Detection Saves LivesJune 1, 2017
By Dr. Madhavi Reddy
Colon Cancer is a deadly disease that often remains under the radar.
However, it recently received widespread local media attention after Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson died from colon cancer at the age 50 in 2016.
All New Yorkers were shocked and saddened by his death.
Nationally, an estimated 50,260 people will die from colorectal cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
In Brooklyn, each year, more than 9,000 New Yorkers develop colorectal cancer and more than 3,000 die from the disease.
As we recognized National Cancer Survivors Day this month, colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in New York State.
Unfortunately many of these deaths may have been prevented with early detection, thus saving lives.
The number of people who die from colorectal cancer could be reduced by an estimated 60 percent through early detection and treatment.
Based on the current colon cancer death statistics, we could reduce the number of deaths through early screenings by an estimated 1,800 lives annually.
The Brooklyn Hospital Center (TBHC) and Cancer Services of Brooklyn (CSP) are working together to reduce those numbers.
A 2016 study conducted by TBHC Internal Medicine Fellow Dr. Namrita Prasad found that there “were statistically significant differences in prevalence rates of colon cancer in Brooklyn when compared to New York State as a whole.”
Like most health problems, colorectal cancer responds best to treatment when it is diagnosed and treated early, especially before it has a chance to spread outside of the colon.
For this reason I am participating in the National Colon Cancer Round Table to increase the colon cancer screening rate to 80 percent by 2018.
It is important to get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45 for African-Americans and starting at the age of 50 for all others. Individuals with a personal or family history of colon cancer or certain related genetic disorders should be screened sooner.
Polyps (growths on the inner surface of the colon) can grow anywhere in the colon or rectum, and can eventually turn into colon cancer. Polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy.
Because colon cancer does not always present with symptoms such as blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, you should have your colon checked at the recommended age.
At The Brooklyn Hospital Center, where I am a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, we performed more than 5,590 colonoscopies last year.
It is easy to have your colon tested. Call your doctor today and schedule an appointment.
A colonoscopy can save your life!
Dr. Madhavi Reddy is Program Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Fellowship Program, Medical Director of Ambulatory Care Center, Gastroenterology and Hepatology at The Brooklyn Hospital Center.
Drs. Tagore Sunkara & Denzil Etienne are Gastroenterology and Hepatology fellows at The Brooklyn Hospital Center.